Tips for your first date with someone you met online

With all the dating websites and apps out there, it’s easier than ever to meet other singles. And you can do it all from the comfort of your flannel pajamas and sofa. But all of these choices are causing people to develop date fatigue. Going on bad date after bad date after bad date can leave you feeling jaded and hopeless of finding your perfect match. You can get stuck in an endless loop:

You see someone’s profile and you think they have a lot of potential → You send them a message and set up a date → You get excited → You go on the date only to discover that the person is nothing like what you imagined on their profile → You politely put up with it the date while silently cursing yourself for missing out on a Netflix binge → You change back into your flannel pajamas and start browsing profiles again → Repeat step one.

Here are some dating tips to get you out of that cycle and help you have a successful first date with that person you just met online:

  • Consider which dating site/app you use – the site you place the person on will set the tone for your first date. Did you meet on a site geared toward people wanting long-term relationships (hookup site) or did you meet on a site geared toward people looking for hookups (hookup site)? You can tell what kind of site/app it is by what you were asked to do to start a profile. If it was quick and easy to create a profile (you didn’t have to pay any money or you just had to answer a few questions), then you’re probably on a site for people looking for quick and easy interactions. Take Tinder for example. All you have to do is upload an image and fill in some basic demographic information (gender, age, email address) and you can start swiping. But it will be more difficult to create a profile on a relationship site. Take eHarmony for example. There are hundreds of questions you are asked before you open an account and you have to pay money to keep an active profile. People who put so much time and energy into a profile are often looking for a serious relationship. If you’re looking for a long-term relationship, then you want to focus your energy on people who have profiles on a relationship site. This will ensure that you don’t waste time going on dates with people who are just looking for hookups. Are you looking for a connection? No judgment. Things will be much easier for you if you search for matches on hookup sites.
  • Get to know the person before the date: When a first date with an online partner doesn’t go well, it’s usually because there’s a difference between how the person appeared online and how they really are in person. Sometimes this happens because the person’s profile was not completely honest. But even if the profile is accurate, we have a tendency to fall into the trap of idealization. This is when you feel an initial attraction to someone’s profile and then become convinced that the two of you would make a great couple. Since there is limited information about that person’s profile, you start to fill in the blanks and eventually end up with an idealized version of that person in your head. So you have a meeting in person and are disappointed when you discover all the ways that the real person is different from the person in your imagination. The best way to avoid the idealization trap is to take the time to get to know the person before their first date. Research shows that the more communication there is before a first date, the more likely it is to be successful (Sharabi & Caughlin, 2017). Communication helps you get to know the other person, so you have realistic expectations of what that person will be like. Also, the more two people know each other, the more likely they are to have chemistry. And, of course, you have a better chance of weeding out people you’re not compatible with before dating.
  • Make a short date: Do an activity that can be short, like having coffee or ice cream. Then you can cut the date short if you really don’t feel the person. Avoid prolonged activities that can make you feel trapped, such as movies, plays, concerts, or dinners at fancy restaurants. This step can save you a lot of time, energy, and money. And if you really end up enjoying your date, you can always extend it by going to a second location.
  • Check your date’s profile – let’s be honest, you’re looking at at least 5 profiles a day and chatting with several different matches at once. By the time you get to that first in-person meeting, it can be hard to remember what you loved so much about your date to begin with. Before you go on your date, refresh your memory by reviewing their profile. Take note of your date’s interests and the things you have in common, and it will be easier to keep the conversation going and build chemistry.
  • Keep an open mind: Many people are so focused on finding potential flaws during a first date that they can’t really get to know the other person. You’ll both be nervous, so your date might not make a good first impression, and you might not feel instant chemistry. As I mentioned in step 2, chemistry develops as you get to know someone, so don’t jump to conclusions too quickly.

Following these steps will prevent you from developing date fatigue and lead to more success on the first date. Happy dating!

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